To receive a high star rating, a restaurant needs to be well-rounded. Food, service, value, drinks, all need to be present. Some restaurants in Jacksonville like Shula’s 347 and Copeland’s focus too much on singular aspects and forget about the total picture. Seven Bridges Grille & Brewery falls into this same trap.
The exterior and interior of Seven Bridges is typical for a sports bar/brewery-type restaurant but has a few interesting features. They offer outdoor seating and the sign is easy to spot on Gate. You’ll see it right after you turn off Southside within the Tinseltown movie theater complex.
The interior is very open and airy. Diners can see the rafters on the vaulted ceiling above. They also have a lot of booth seating, which we like. Potted plants are placed throughout the big dining room and bar. Diners can see the beer distillery in the back of the restaurant and some beer connoisseurs may really enjoy this aspect.
Here’s where Seven Bridges shines. This restaurant offers a wide selection of beers that they create themselves. These include the Southern Flyer–the lightest beer in their selection in terms of body and color that is deemed a “true American lager.” On the other side of the spectrum is their Iron Horse Stout, which they say is “boldy aggressive with a roasted flavor stemming from rich UK malt.” According to their website, this beer won first place in the 1998 World Beer Cup in Brazil.
What’s more, diners can create their own “Beer Sampler.” This is comparable to a wine flight but obviously includes beer instead of wine. The beer comes in small cups but this allows for a large variety. Truly something to try if you live in Jacksonville and love beer.
Although Seven Bridges stands out in the drinks category, it seems they put too much emphasis in this category and forgot about their food!. We’ve visited this restaurant three times and each time the food was subpar. Their menu is large but it starts to look more like a typical bar menu the closer you look. For instance, the classic, greasy starters are all there at the top: buffalo wings ($9), chicken nachos ($10.50), fried chicken tenderloins ($8.50). These types of foods pair well with beer but don’t equate to fine dining.
In looking at their entrees, we can’t help but be reminded of the typical fare served at chains like TGI Fridays and Chili’s. Take their parmesan crusted shrimp pasta. This is likely an inexpensive entree for the restaurant to create with linguini, vegetables, and shrimp in a roasted red pepper cream sauce. However, the meal goes for ($15) and fails to impress. Their blackened mahi was equally unimpressive when we gave it a try. This dish has a very strong blackened flavor and comes with rice pilaf and vegetables for $19. This entree wasn’t terrible but it certainly wasn’t great.
In sum, Seven Bridges is mainly a beer bar with some food on the side. There are some cool aspects like the house-made beer and the distilleries that diners can view. However, it’s important to go here with the right mindset. In other words, if you come to Seven Bridges expecting a fine dining experience with upscale food then you’ll be disappointed. If you arrive looking for some unique beer and nachos then this is your place.